The nation’s hottest real estate markets in July weren’t the big, famous cities that most folks would expect. But what they lack in glitz, excitement, and skyscrapers, these smaller metropolitan areas more than make up for in affordability, according an analysis of July realtor.com® data.
Many of the metros at the top of the list are industrial towns throughout the Rust Belt that have undergone revitalizations and are booming again. Or they’re smaller, less expensive alternatives to pricier cities a few hours away. Such is the case with Sacramento, which is just an hour and a half northwest of San Francisco but has a median home price that’s nearly half that of the larger city.
(Metros include the main city and the surrounding smaller towns and urban areas.)
The No. 1 slot? It went to the industrial town of Fort Wayne, IN. This city has been on the upswing for years and still has a strong manufacturing sector and a burgeoning arts scene. That’s caught the attention of builders, who are putting up new homes throughout the area.
The hottest markets “have a decent economy. They’re producing jobs. They’re growing,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com. “They have lower home price tags, and they have more starter homes than other markets.”
Homes in Fort Wayne, about two hours northwest of Indianapolis, got nearly triple the views on realtor.com than the typical properties throughout the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the median days on market for the market fell seven days over the past year.
“Many of the buyers we work with realize they might be able to buy a house and have a monthly mortgage payment less than the rent payment,” says Beth Walker, a Fort Wayne–based real estate broker at Fairfield Group Realtors who is also president of the Upstate Alliance of Realtors.
“Young people don’t want to always max out what they can afford,” she continues. “People are finding smaller, [cheaper] cities where you can buy a good-sized home and not be mortgage poor and afford a good quality of life.”
Fort Wayne–area buyers can find starter homes going for between $75,000 and $200,000, she says. But they had better act fast.
“A move-in-ready house that lists for under $200,000 will typically sell within 24 to 48 hours,” Walker says. Those are for homes within the city limits and surrounding suburbs. “And it’s not uncommon for it to have multiple offers.” That can push prices up between 10% and 20%, she says.
Fort Wayne was one of three Indiana metros to crack the top 20 hottest markets in July. Lafayette, IN, also a manufacturing town, fell from the third spot to sixth place.
“We are a very affordable market,” says local associate real estate broker Jennifer O’Shea of Keller Williams Realty. “Our economy is booming, so there are lots of opportunities for employment.”
Many of her clients are moving into the area from other parts of the country to work at Purdue University, in neighboring West Lafayette, IN. About 42,000 students are enrolled at the school.
“You can enter the market for around $100,000 [to snag a starter home,” O’Shea says. But those who are willing to pay more can get quite a bit more for their money.
For $250,000, “you can get a really nice, 2,400-square-foot, brand-new, single-family home with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths,” she says
Below are the rest of the hottest markets for July:
The hot list
|Metro||Rank (July 2019)||Rank (July 2018)|
|Fort Wayne, IN||1||12|
|Colorado Springs, CO||9||22|
|Yuba City, CA||12||32|
Editors’ note: Realtor.com is upgrading its database to a new system that allows for more enhanced listings tracking. The July data contained in this article is a preview of the new database and may be adjusted once the conversion is complete.
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